Tuesday, January 2, 2018

My 2018 Word of the Year (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.

The beauty of Wonder is that it opens your heart to new and different, because you are not operating out of a need to prove yourself. The risk of Wonder is that it opens up your heart to new and different - which might lead to the desire to prove yourself.

By the end of 2017, I found myself operating out my old habits of needing to prove myself, and I felt like I was failing on many levels. It led to a strong desire to just hide. To quit showing up. To pull away. The Year of Wonder had drawn me down new paths that were overgrown and unfamiliar because I had never taken them before. I felt anxious and weary.

I sensed God's invitation to simply rest during the month of December. To quit striving. (Not sure how to do that during a month like December?  I have a little course I could tell you about. 😆)

And in the stillness, He met me.

I read this post in mid-December and these words resonated deeply with me:

"Anxiety is a function of divided attention...Inner peacefulness requires single-mindedness...Peace isn’t a matter of circumstances — it is a matter of focus. Singleminded centering on Christ gives a singular peace."

Then He reminded me of a verse that He gave me way back in the early 2000's as I was preparing to leave my teaching position in Seoul, Korea to return to the States.

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations...and I will give you an undivided heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh..." Ezekiel 11:16-21 (And yes...I pulled out my journal from that year to find it.)

Not long after this reminder, our pastor preached on a very similar passage (Ezekiel 36:24-27). Then a few days later, a friend gave me a Christmas ornament with those very verses inscribed on the tag.

His call to an undivided heart continued to beckon. My focus returned to Him and to His promises. I made space to repent to God and to others the ways that I had allowed my heart to become divided, the ways I had turned to anyone or anything else to prove myself, rather than trusting His love for me.

Shortly after that, I journaled "I'm back at a place of WONDER today." The wind began to return to my sails.

A few days later, I woke up with this word the very first thought in my mind:


Then the next day:

Keep showing up.

Then a couple of days later, I woke with these lines from a song in my head:

"When fears are stilled, when strivings cease." 

I had to start back at the beginning of the song to remember where those words came from.  Oh yes. "In Christ Alone". Interesting. We haven't sung that in a long time, how odd that it would be the first thought in my head.

We sang it in church the following Sunday. 

I will be honest. I'm not completely positive what the purpose is of those words. But that's ok because I'm receiving them with Wonder, rather than a need to prove anything.

I do know they all reflect the desires of my heart and maybe God is giving me permission to wonder again about who I am when I am free. Maybe He is reminding me that they are His desire too, and will fully be met in Him alone.

So, friends. This post sharing a bit of my story is my first step toward showing up. Away from hiding. Toward an undivided heart. Away from fear and striving and toward connection.

(Also, according to my INFP personality type, one of my New Year's resolutions should be to open up to the world. Here you go, world.)

And so, the word that I am choosing for 2018 is Wholehearted

I am asking the Holy Spirit to show me what that truly means. I certainly don't have it all figured out yet. But I do know I'm missing the mark if I'm living disconnected, out of fear and striving or not showing up.

And will I fail at living this out? You bet. Daily.

But as my friend Christine shared with me this year, "No matter what steps I take forward in God's economy, it all gets used." Even steps that fail.

(And yes, I journaled that. 😊)

Happy 2018, friends. May we all show up this year. 

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